Food allergy vs. food sensitivity vs. food intolerance: so many terms and so many tests, and they all can get jumbled! Let's start with setting these terms straight.
A food allergy is an immune response to a certain food, which causes the body to make antibodies to the food. Reactions to food allergies can range from hives to difficulty breathing to anaphylaxis. The way to test for food allergies is measuring IgE antibodies through blood or skin prick testing.
Food intolerances and food sensitivities are synonymous and are specific to the digestive system. They do not cause anaphylaxis. The body is unable to properly digest a certain food, which causes irritation in the digestive tract. Symptoms of food intolerances can include stomach pain, gas, heartburn, and bloating. The antibody involved in food intolerances is IgG. There are many ways to test for food intolerances.
The Gold Standard for assessing sensitivity to food in an Elimination Diet, which involves completely removing the most common triggering foods. These foods are then reintroduced one at a time to see which food is bothersome to the GI tract. This test is the least expensive but most labor-intensive of the tests.
There are MANY food intolerance tests that measure IgG in the blood. IgG testing will measure your reaction to hundreds of foods and state whether you reacted mildly, moderately, or severely to each of the foods. While a plethora of information may be comforting to some, it can be overwhelming to others. These tests vary in price and are often not covered by insurance.
Vega testing measures the body's electromagnetic system through acupuncture points in the hands. Different foods are placed into the measuring circuit, and the machine records changes in skin conductivity. Vega testing is performed in a practitioner's office, and prices vary depending on the practitioner.
Carroll food intolerance evaluation is another blood test, but unlike IgG testing, it will only show 1-2 food intolerances plus 1 food combination intolerance. The Carroll method pairs a blood sample to the most common triggering foods and measures enzymatic function. Carroll evaluations are completed by naturopathic physicians, and prices vary per the physician. **This is the method I am well-trained in. I am happy to check for food intolerances via the Carroll method at QCNH**
Lastly, Applied Kinesiology can be utilized for food sensitivities by measuring muscle strength when exposed to certain foods. The practitioner measures a previously strong muscle while the subject tastes or holds a food. Foods that are not well-tolerated weaken the muscle.
Food intolerance testing is a subject where many practitioners and patients will have varying opinions on efficacy, reliability, and best methods. Be empowered to choose the method that is best for you, and if you have questions about food intolerances or testing, please feel free to ask me. That's why I'm here!